The Season Before Mud Season

There’s a reason the song is called April in Paris.  Not April in Maine.  I’ve been sitting by crackling fires for hours, burning firewood with abandon because I won’t need to refill it until the fall.  I finished reading The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman, the best novel I’ve read in ages, so good I skimmed it immediately upon completion.  I ate a salad (mixed greens, mandarin orange segments, chopped tomatoes, sliced green olives, feta cheese, blush dressing) by the fire.  The dogs were in and out a half-dozen times, mostly-blind Chelsey sniffing the ground and stepping tentatively to reacquaint herself with the terrain.  The house is dark save for yellow firelight and white lamplight shining over my left shoulder.

Outside is the long transition from winter to spring. Shaded areas contain abundant snow, snow melt fills the low spots, the lake is covered with treacherous rotten ice.  Leaving Boston this afternoon it was spring, arriving here early evening it was–Sprinter?  Wing?  A hybrid season that deserves its own name.

The Way Winter Should Be

I drove north from Boston yesterday afternoon in driving 40 degree rain.  A few miles beyond the Maine Turnpike tolls the rain turned to sleet. Two hundred yards ahead–not close enough to threaten collision, close enough to make my heart race–a sedan spun out in the left lane and skidded, back-end first, across three lanes of highway, stopping 20 yards off the shoulder in deep snow.  Somehow it didn’t hit another vehicle.  I considered stopping to help, call police, console, but a short distance beyond the sedan was a state police cruiser helping another vehicle that had skidded off the road.  I saw a dozen more vehicles that had skidded off the highway, their paths marked by swerving tire tracks through the snow. By the time I exited the highway the road surface was less treacherous and the storm was over.  I passed a man and snowblower clearing foot-deep snow from his driveway.  “That’s odd” I thought.  “That snow is so deep–he must not have cleared it for weeks.” What was odd was how long it took me to acknowledge the obvious.  This storm, only rain in Boston, dumped a foot of snow in this area of Maine.  The camp road was plowed up to my driveway, the entrance to which was blocked by a three-foot high berm of plowed snow.

God invented 4-wheel drive for moments like this.  I punched through the snow, negotiated the  driveway, and arrived at the house–where I stepped from the cab into calf-deep snow.  No boots, no gloves, no hat.  Why did I need them?  It was raining when I left home.  I had to shovel out the front door to get into the house.

It’s worth it.  Winter in the Boston area is frozen piles of dirt-blackened snow, plates of ice seemingly welded to road surfaces, the long, slow, painful wait for a thaw.  Winter in Maine is this: